Home > The Compelled (The Vampire Diaries: Stefan's Diaries #6)(3)

The Compelled (The Vampire Diaries: Stefan's Diaries #6)(3)
Author: L.J. Smith

“Was that enough?” she asked, sliding into a seated position and crossing her legs under her gray dress, now spattered with dirt and blood. Dark shadows surrounded her eyes, and the smudges of grime on her cheeks blended with the smattering of freckles on her skin. Her teeth were chattering. A cold snap had hit London in the past few days, and it was especial y frigid in the tunnel, where the wal s were beaded with condensation and a misty gray fog swirled around the darkness.

“It was, thank you. How are you?” I asked, feeling stupid as soon as the words escaped my lips. How was she? She was in the tunnel of an al -but-abandoned construction site.

She’d just kil ed a rat and watched it be drained of its blood. She’d been betrayed by her vampire sister. She’d witnessed vampires torturing one another, seen a body burned to ashes. And although she did so wil ingly, she’d been used as a pawn in our war against Samuel. But he’d escaped, and had brutal y kil ed two of Cora’s friends, then left their corpses in Mitre Square. How did I expect her to feel?

“I’m alive,” Cora said. “I believe that counts for something.” She attempted a laugh, but it came out as a sputtering cough. I patted her on the back and was surprised when she leaned in and gave me a hug.

“I’m sorry I put you in danger,” I said hol owly. “I should have known that we couldn’t reason with Violet. I should never have brought you to see her.” We’d gone to see Ephraim, a witch, and had him cast a locator spel to help us find Violet and persuade her to leave Samuel. But when we’d found her, she hadn’t listened to anything we’d said and had kidnapped Cora, which is how she’d ended up back at the Asylum the same day Damon and I had snuck in to ambush Samuel.

“You wouldn’t have been able to keep me away from Violet,” Cora said firmly. “You told me she wouldn’t be the same. But deep down, I believed she’d stil be my sister.

Now I know I was wrong.” Cora shuddered. I nodded, sad that my prediction had been true.

“I was so stupid,” Cora said, her face twisting in anger. “I thought I could get through to her. I thought she could change. But there was nothing of Violet left in her. She fed on me, Stefan. Then she brought me to the Asylum and asked that groundskeeper, Seaver, to lock me in that room.

I tried to escape, but Seaver started chanting and al of a sudden, I was completely trapped.” Cora’s lower lip wobbled as tears spil ed down her cheeks. She wiped them away with the back of her hand and set her mouth in a firm line.

“He must have used some sort of spel ,” I said slowly. I remembered how smal and helpless Cora had looked in that room in the Magdalene Asylum. She must have been terrified.

“We need to see Ephraim,” I decided. The only thing I knew for certain was that if Samuel had witches under his control, we’d need a way to counter their spel s.

“No!” Cora yel ed. “Not Ephraim. I had a bad feeling about him. His locator spel may have taken us to Violet, but what if that was a trap he set up with Samuel? What if he’s been working for Samuel al along? We know Ephraim used to do jobs for the highest bidder—who’s to say he ever stopped? We can’t trust him,” Cora said, setting her jaw. “We need to come up with another plan.”

“Wel , we need someone on our side who can perform magic. Otherwise, Samuel wil always have that advantage over us,” I said. I stood up and paced back and forth, wil ing my mind to come up with a clever way to ensnare Samuel and free my brother. But I stil felt weak and shaky and utterly unable to concentrate. The rat’s blood had only taken the edge off my hunger.

“I think you should drink real blood,” Cora said quietly, as if she could read my mind. “Like your brother. Like Samuel.

It would make you strong enough to fight him, right? It would make the fight even, like you said.” Her eyes glittered like diamonds in the darkness.

“I can’t!” I exploded in frustration, unleashing al the tension I’d been holding in. My voice echoed off the wal s of the tunnel, sending rodents skittering to unknown hiding spots. A few nights before, I would’ve heard the far-off moans and heartbeats of other tunnel dwel ers. Tonight, there were none, and I was glad they’d moved on. The sound of blood rushing against veins would be far too tempting. I took a steadying breath. “I can’t control myself,” I continued more calmly. “When Damon feeds, he’s smarter and faster. When I feed, al I want is more blood. I can’t think logical y or rational y. Al I can think of is how I’l hunt my next meal. I’m a beast on blood, Cora.”

Cora opened her mouth as if to say something, then thought the better of it. “Al right. But Stefan,” she said, grabbing my wrist in a surprisingly strong grip. “This is war, and I won’t have you lose on principle.”

“What do you mean?” I tugged my wrist away gently and peered at her. “It’s more than principle—it’s survival. I don’t drink human blood.”

“I know you don’t. Al I meant was that I’l do whatever it takes to stop Samuel from kil ing more innocent people.

And I hope you’l do the same. Maybe drinking human blood would be different for you now. Maybe you could try.”

“I can’t,” I said firmly. “You don’t know what blood does to me. And I don’t want you to find out.”

Cora looked at me indignantly, but I didn’t want to pursue the subject any further. “We should get some sleep,” I said. I settled on the hard ground on the opposite side of the tunnel. I heard her shaky breathing, but I couldn’t tel if she was shivering or crying. I didn’t ask.

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